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What You Need to Know About Google Passage Ranking

March 16, 2021 in Local Search

Man typing search query into his computer

2 Minute Read: 

What Is Google Passage Indexing? 

Google technology is now able to analyze and understand the content of individual passages within a web page. This means each sentence or section of content can be evaluated separately from the rest of the page. 

Google previously indexed each web page as a single entity; now, it can index specific passages. If a passage is relevant to a search query, the page it’s on may rank in the search results, even if the overall topic of the page isn’t relevant to the search. 

This passage-based ranking means Google can more easily identify search query answers that otherwise may not have shown up because they were hidden deep within a web page. 

This passage ranking update (previously called passage indexing) went live on February 10, 2021, for English search queries in the U.S.

How Is Passage Ranking Different From Featured Snippets? 

Google shows a Featured Snippet at the top of the search results page when there is information that proficiently answers a query according to their index. Previously, for information from a page to be shown in a Featured Snippet, the entire page had to be relevant to the search request. 

With passage ranking, this is no longer the case; a single passage can rank on its own in the Featured Snippet.

What Does Passage Ranking Mean for Your Content? 

Fortunately, this update doesn’t require you to make any changes to your website to maintain relevance.

Google’s passage-understanding capabilities help pages with long-form content or multiple subjects rank for a particular passage within the page. For example, you may have a section of content on your page that dives deep into a very specific aspect of a topic. Or you may have an FAQ that’s not completely related to the overall topic of your page. 

With the passage ranking update, you don’t need to worry about optimizing each page for all of the various topics that might be covered; they may rank on their own.

Screenshot of a plastic surgery page showing recovery from tummy tuck information

The highlighted portion of this client’s page benefits from passage ranking.

Google search results page for query "what is the recovery time for a tummy tuck in Pasadena"

The Google search results page shows the passage content from the above procedure page.

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